Laos and other ASEAN member countries are pursuing efforts to meet common goals and address problems related to deforestation as well as promoting sustainable forest management.
Senior officials from ASEAN countries, and the ASEAN Secretariat on forestry are meeting in Vientiane from August 4-5, for their nineteenth meeting, to share their views on addressing issues in the forestry sector and the cooperation progamme and projects on forestry.
In his opening remarks at the 19th ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF) yesterday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Thongphath Vongmany made mention about the tropical forests in Southeast Asia being the world’s third largest tropical forests after the Brazilian Amazon and African tropical rainforests.
He noted that these forests in the ASEAN region are part of the earth’s oldest and richest existing ecosystems, and that they harbour thousands of flora and fauna species, but that the region is losing forest coverage faster than any other tropical regions in the world.
The deputy minister referred to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which estimated that around 42 million hectares of forests have been lost in Southeast Asia between 1990 and 2010. Losses were confirmed to greater or lesser extents in all ASEAN member countries.
“This seriously threatens the existence of our valuable tropical forests, which will subsequently result in undesirable and severe social, economic and environmental impacts,” Mr. Thongphath said.
However he added that he was confident that all ASEAN member countries have already taken active actions and tried hard to avoid the aforementioned undesirable phenomenon, with special attention to the fight against illegal timber logging and trading.
A considerable emphasis has also been placed on the promotion of sustainable forest management and utilisation.
Pertaining to Laos, as a member of ASEAN, Mr. Thongphath said the country has also tried hard to protect and manage its valuable forests in a sustainable manner.
“Like other countries, we have put a lot of effort into the development and enhancement of relevant policies and legal frameworks, promotion of participatory sustainable forest management and law enforcement” Mr. Thongphath said.
He pointed to the Lao government, which very recently decided to take strong
action to combat illegal timber logging and trading by issuing the Prime Minister’s Order No.15 to ban the export of all round woods and sawn woods and encourage downstream processing, noting that currently the order is being effectively enforced by all sectors throughout the country.
According to the results of the latest national forest cover assessment in 2015, the forest cover of Laos was estimated at 69.9 percent as compared to 67.2 percent in 2010.
At the meeting in Vientiane, the officials have reviewed the implementation of various policies for forestry cooperation in the region, reported about the outcome of the consultation with the chairs of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment about the prevention of forest fires, and sustainable forest management in ASEAN.
Today, they are continuing discussions on ASEAN forest issues and global climate change, as well as ASEAN forest cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
This ASOF meeting will lead to the adoption of the Strategic Plan of Action for ASEAN Cooperation in Forestry 2016-2025, which has been developed, intensively consulted on and revised to meet ASEAN common strategic objectives, while taking into account the relevant global concerns.
Source: Vientiane Times